Cautions and Caveats

The great danger at the end of a first course in anything is that one becomes a danger to the world because one knows a little bit about a lot of somethings. That's because we almost always learn the "good news" (all the amazing things this tool can do or this concept explains) before (or more than) we learn the "bad news" (the limited conditions under which it applies, the errors that can be made, the other factors that must be taken into consideration).
This last session is intended to add a little chastening to our salad of tools, to remind us to be as wise in knowing what we don't know as in what we do, and to, hopefully, succeed in making us realize that competence and expertise are often best exercised by seeking out the assistance of others with more of both than we ourselves have. Our expertise often lies in knowing whom to call, what to ask them to do, and how to use what they can give us.
Our specific learning goal is to move toward constructing a list of techniques, what they are appropriate for, and what one must be on the guard for.
Marching Orders

Now what? There's always more to learn, so where next for the working professional? We'll try to draw a map showing how much of different techniques we covered and where the next steps in each are to be found.
One goal in this course has be to develop the capacity to look at a problem and fig-ure out what kind of a problem it is. In other words, what family of models we would turn to start thinking about it. The successful student will now have sentences like these in her repertoire: "That's a collective action problem," "That’s the standard maximization problem," "That's a critical mass problem," and ask questions like, "What constraints are we operating under here?" or "Where's the feedback here?"


Stokey & Zeckhauser, ch. 14, "Achieving Desirable Outcomes," pp.291-319.

Stokey & Zeckhauser, ch. 15, "Putting Analysis to Work," pp.320-329.